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Author: ccc

Low-battery warning fight

Microsoft’s carbon dating, Google in $1tn club, Logitech’s split keyboard

Don’t tell anyone, but my iPhone charger is hidden under some newspapers on my desk so that it’s less likely to go walkies when I’m not there.

I’ve always taken precautions, with people very eager to “borrow” this vital energy supply, and in future, I may have to bolt my chargers to the desk. The European Union just doubled the chances of me losing them this week when it revived the idea of universal chargers that would fit Apple, Samsung and any other smartphones.

Apart from the extra jeopardy I will face personally, the tech industry’s own selfish interests are in focus here. “The EU-enforced common charger is the enemy of progress” was the headline of a release from the corporate-backed Consumer Choice Center, which said any such move would undermine innovation and restrict competition. It echoed the argument when this last came up from Apple, which is the king of proprietary technologies and whose Lightning connectors are still cursed by anyone wanting to plug in a headphone jack.

I don’t buy their concerns. Where would we be without common USB and HDMI standards, and WiFi and Bluetooth, all with dongle-less backwards compatibility? I would happily trade a little innovation and commercial advantage for those invaluable conformities. 

Of course, legislators are always behind the tech curve and the common charger debate would become moot if we all bought wireless charging mats that removed the need for hard connections completely. Then again, some companies are not being as innovative in taking us to that bright new future as they think they are. Apple announced its AirPower wireless charging mats in 2017, but had to cancel the product less than two years later after struggling to make one that worked properly.

The Internet of (Five) Things

1. Microsoft’s carbon dating The software shop has gone further than other tech giants in committing to become “carbon negative” by 2030 and offset all carbon emissions made since it was founded. The $1.2tn company also announced a $1bn innovation fund to tackle the climate crisis.

2. There’s another trillion-dollar tech titan Alphabet on Thursday became the fourth Big Tech company to reach a market capitalisation of $1tn. Apple was the first public company to achieve the milestone, in August 2018, and is now more than a third of the way to a second trillion. It was followed by Amazon, which has since fallen back below the 13-digit threshold, and then Microsoft. Meanwhile, Tesla’s soaring share price is giving short sellers the heebie jeebies.

3. Peacock proud of its free streaming strategy The last major streaming debut is also the cheapest. Comcast unveiled its NBCUniversal Peacock streaming service on Thursday and said it would be free for its existing cable customers when it launches fully in July. There will be live sports and news, a large catalogue of older sitcoms, and the service will primarily rely on advertising rather than the subscriptions favoured by rivals. “We like the idea of zigging when others zag,” said NBCUniversal chairman Steve Burke.

4. WhatsApp won’t rely on ads Facebook is dropping plans to show ads on its WhatsApp messaging service, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. WhatsApp disbanded the team working on integrating ads on to the platform recently and even the code they had created was deleted from the app.

5. Ad industry faces wrath of regulator The UK’s data protection regulator is braced to do battle with the country’s £13bn online advertising industry, saying it will start investigating individual companies that are in breach of European data protection law and enforcing it against them. The Information Commissioner’s Office said the ad industry had responded insufficiently to a six-month grace period to get its house in order.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 
consumerchoicecenter.org

2020: A Radio Show, Bringing Consumer Choice to Davos, and Fighting for Science

Dear Friend of Consumer Choice!

The CCC is now entering into its fourth year and we’re excited to see more and more interest in our work. 

Here’s a breakdown of everything our team has been up to since our last message:


Consumer Choice Radio!

Our North American team has launched a whole radio show dedicated to #consumerchoice. Consumer Choice Radio is broadcast on Saturdays at 10AM EST on The Big Talker 106.7 FM out of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Yaël and David will talk for an hour every week about pressing consumer issues that are happening around the world, and have interviews with entrepreneurs, innovators, and people leading the charge for more consumer choice.

Either tune in every Saturday or subscribe to our podcast or YouTube channel.


This gets me to the next big item of this newsletter: Our third episode of the radio show will be brought to you from Davos, Switzerland. Six of us will observe what global elites are planning in the areas of consumer-facing issues.

2nd Cannabis Conclave Davos 2020

We will also host the second-ever Cannabis Conclave in Davos and expect another packed house!

The Conclave is a networking event that seeks to connect industry leaders, investors, and policymakers. The purpose of the event is to advance the legalization discussion internationally, for both medical and recreational cannabis.


Davos: 21democracy

As part of our 21Democracy project, we will host a dinner with leading policymakers, liberal business leaders, consumers, law enforcement, and civil rights activists who will be will be sharing ideas on how we can deploy our resources to combat Chinese Communist Party power and influence in liberal democracies and on consumer choice globally.


During our week in Davos we will also attend other events on brand freedom (especially important given recent moves by Israel and Denmark to boost the black market by banning branding of vaping products), trade, meet policymakers, and make consumer voices heard in the debate. 

Let us know if you or any of your friends will be in Davos. We would love to connect at 2,000 meters high!


Pharma Transparency Campaign

Our latest campaign is on drug transparency: We believe patients should have the right to know which drugs are available now and which ones will become available soon in their country. Therefore we started a media and social media campaign promoting this idea. You can read my piece in CapX here.


You might also like my thoughts on how we can bring down the cost structure of new life-saving drugs.

This week my colleague Bill will be at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) in Berlin, Germany and see what’s in for consumers. The GFFA brings together leading voices in global agriculture. The CCC defends innovative agro-tech methods such as gene-editing, as means to improve the lives of consumers across the globe. You’ll be able to catch updates from Bill on our Instagram and Facebook stories. Bill also made it into Germany’s top daily newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, writing about lessons from the French Nutri Score labels. 

Maria’s and my open letter to the EU Commission to give GMOs and gene editing a chance got picked up by The Scottish Farmer


Event on GMO, Gene Editing and Climate Change

On February 3rd we will be co-hosting an event on the future of food in London, UK with our friends from the Genetic Literacy Project, Adam Smith Institute, and the British Conservation Alliance.


Legal Reform

Our push for legal reform in the United States keeps gaining ground.

Last month Yaël got published in the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Daily News on the various ways lawmakers should reform the U.S. legal system.


As you can see, we are starting 2020 at full steam ahead, pushing for choice in the fields of Digital, Transportation, Consumer Goods, and Health & Science. 

Stay tuned for our February updates and please keep supporting our work!


Fred Roeder

Veganistische of dierlijke mode: Wat is duurzamer?

Veganistische of dierlijke mode: Wat is duurzamer?

Veganistische mode is in. Een indicatie hiervan is de eerste Vegan Fashion Week, die in februari in Los Angeles in première ging. Maar door de toenemende populariteit van de trend neemt ook het aantal critici toe die dierenrechtenactivisten juist ervan beschuldigen niet duurzaam genoeg te zijn.

De “mythes” van veganistische mode ontkrachten

In februari 2019 kondigde de British Consumer Choice Center in een persbericht de start van de #ChoiceInFashion campagne aan. “We willen consumenten inlichten over dierlijke materialen en de mythes en urban legends ontkrachten over veganistische mode die door zelfbenoemde dierenrechtengroepen worden verspreid.” Consumenten zouden onder steeds grotere druk worden gezet om dierlijke producten te vermijden, betreurt de campagne. De CCC (die dezelfde afkorting hanteert als de Clean Clothes Campaign) vertegenwoordigt consumenten in meer dan honderd landen en vecht voor het behoud van een keuze voor consumentenproducten (niet alleen in mode) en tegen toenemende regelgeving.

“We houden de regelgevende trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussel, Geneve en andere centra voor regelgeving nauwlettend in de gaten en informeren en activeren consumenten om voor het behoud van vrije keuze te vechten,” voegt het toe. Met andere woorden: de demonisering van dierlijke producten moet stoppen.

Bont wordt al decennia lang bekritiseerd

Het begon allemaal met bont. Ieder kind weet tenminste sinds de jaren tachtig dat bont niet hip is, of op zijn minst dubieus. Wie de straten van Duitsland in een nertsmantel durft af te struinen moet voorbereid zijn op vijandigheid. Gek genoeg heeft dit echter nooit in de weg gestaan van parka’s met ontelbare voeringen en afwerkingen van bont, vaak zonder dat de drager dit doorheeft. Volgens enquêtes blijkt dat men dat het nep bont betrof. Nep en echt bont zijn tegenwoordig moeilijk van elkaar te onderscheiden, maar textielmerken moeten opheldering geven. Het lijkt er echter op dat hoewel veel consumenten tegen bont zijn, ze zich nog niet daarnaar gedragen.

Dierenrechtenactivisten worden aandeelhouders

Om hier verandering in te brengen zijn dierenrechtenorganisaties al jaren confronterend bezig en hebben herhaaldelijk media-effectieve acties gevoerd in stadscentra, vóór de deuren van winkels, bedrijfshoofdkantoren of beurzen. Zo werden in Duitsland warenhuis Breuninger en luxe skimerk Bogner aangevallen voor hun gebruik van echt bont. In herfst 2018 gaf Breuninger toe aan de druk en maakte bekend dat het vanaf 2020 niet langer echt bont in het assortiment zou opnemen. Het nieuws werd zelfs uitgezonden op tv-zender RTL, en het toenemende succes spoorde dierenrechtenactivisten verder aan. Daarnaast nam dierenwelvaartsorganisatie PETA aandelen in verschillende modehuizen om ze van binnenuit – als aandeelhouder – te kunnen beïnvloeden op het gebied van materialen die in de collecties gebruikt worden. Zo werd PETA onder andere aandeelhouder van Canada Goose, LVMH en Prada.

Veganisten willen alle dierlijke vezels verbannen

Het betreft inmiddels niet slechts bont. Met de opkomst van de wereldwijde veganistische levensstijl – deels veroorzaakt door schandalige veeteeltpraktijken – worden alle onbewerkte dierlijke textielmaterialen op de zwarte lijst gezet – van leer, zijde en wol tot dons. Gruwelijke rapporten over dierenmishandeling hebben zoveel publieke druk veroorzaakt dat tal van modebedrijven niet alleen met veel tamtam het gebruik van bont of exotisch leer hebben verbannen, maar ook van mohair, angora en zijde. De lijst van merken wordt alsmaar langer, variërend van Chanel tot Esprit. Tegelijkertijd worden steeds meer veganistische collecties gekocht, bijvoorbeeld mij Marks & Spencer. Zelfs evenementen doen mee: Helsinki Fashion Week besloot leer te bannen.

Gebruik van exotische dierenhuiden betreft dierenwelzijn

Tegenwoordig zijn er echter dierenrechtenactivisten die precies het tegenovergestelde uitdragen. Ze voeren aan dat het economische gebruik van bepaalde dierlijke producten het voortbestaan van deze rassen verzekert en het oncontroleerbaar afslachten van wilde dieren voorkomt. Volgens hen is dit bijvoorbeeld toepasbaar op veel soorten exotische dierenhuiden. Deze dieren worden speciaal gefokt voor de productie van leer en worden daardoor nog niet met uitsterven bedreigd.

Toen Chanel het gebruik van reptielenhuiden in 2018 staakte als gevolg van publieke druk, werd het modehuis alsnog bekritiseerd. “In plaats van te werken aan verbeteringen, kiest Chanel voor de makkelijke weg,” zei Dr. Rosie Cooney, Voorzitter van de Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group van de IUCN Species Survival Commission volgens Business of Fashion. Zo blijkt het label “schuldgevoel vrij”dat veganistische mode graag hanteert echter verre van de waarheid.

Veganistische mode is slecht voor het milieu

En daar houdt het niet bij op. Voor zover de veganistische levensstijl de nieuwe mainstream is geworden nemen de beschuldigingen van milieuactivisten toe die in principe dierenwelzijn steunen maar niet het gebruik van synthetische materialen. Wat voor veganistisch “leer” doorgaat is vaak niets anders dan polyester of polyurethaan. Met andere woorden, een plastic vezel die ten eerste gemaakt is van ruwe olie en dus niet duurzaam. Ten tweede, het is niet biologisch afbreekbaar en dus vervuilt het onze planeet. Ten derde, het bereikt de voedselketen in de vorm van microplastics en ten vierde is het momenteel niet mogelijk schoenen te recyclen. Veganistische vervangingen voor wol zijn ook problematische: de synthetische vezel Polyacryl wordt gebruikt om een wolachtige look te realiseren.

Veganistisch betekent niet milieuvriendelijk

Men mag dus concluderen dat veganistische mode niet noodzakelijk een milieuvriendelijk of duurzaam alternatief is. We moeten kritisch blijven. Toch is de toon van veel actuele anti-veganistische campagnes irritant. Het veelvoorkomende argument dat veganistische mode gebruik maakt van plastic en het milieu vervuilt is even oppervlakkig als de algemene beschuldiging van veganisten dat dierlijke producten allemaal het product zijn van wrede veeteeltpraktijken. Geen van beiden is juist, want niet alle dierlijke vezels zijn per se milieuvriendelijker dan synthetische vezels, en niet alle dieren worden wreed behandeld. Wat daarom hinderlijk is, is dat de ethische en duurzame argumenten door elkaar worden gehaald en uitgebuit worden. Degenen die ervoor kiezen geen dierlijke producten te gebruiken doen dat om ethische redenen. En die redenen hebben niet per se te maken met milieubescherming.


Originally published here.

Time to give GMOs a chance?

IF THE European Union would take a more ‘science-led’ attitude to genetically modified crops, it could hugely reduce its use of pesticides.

According to ‘consumer advocacy group’ the Consumer Choice Center, it is time to reassess the existing EU regulation of biotechnology.

In an open letter to Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, the pro-GM campaigners emphasised the benefits of a ‘pro-consumer, pro-science and pro-innovation approach’.

“Faced with the issue of climate change, we should remain sensible in our effort to ensure the sustainable and effective functioning of European agriculture that works for all,” read the letter. “The right of consumers to choose should be respected and preserved at all costs.

“As the European Union seeks to drive down the use of pesticides, it shouldn’t turn its back on innovation in agriculture. Genetic modification, with its propensity to reduce chemical pesticide use by more than 30%, is an astounding solution to this pressing issue.

“With the help of gene engineering, we would be able to decrease our dependence on natural resources and minimise the use of fertilisers and pesticides.

“Consumers, farmers and the environment benefit from the application of genetic modification. Above all, enabling genetic modification is a great way to reduce the use of pesticides. Turning a blind eye to these possibilities is costly and harms consumer choice in the European Union.”

Originally published here.

The holiday season is here!

Newsletter December/2019:

The holiday season is here!

But worry not – even though most of you may be surviving the glitzy office parties and shuffling your feet in the cold streets, we’re keeping the fire of consumer choice burning as 2019 winds down.

We at CCC are quite toasty, as we just returned from our annual staff retreat in Miami. We usually meet in various cafes in Brussels, but the warm weather and opportunity to protest at an NBA game was too precious – more on that later.

Here’s a break down of everything our team has been up to since our last message.

Calling all those interested in #LegalReform!

Yes indeed – earlier this year, the Consumer Choice Center launched a campaign to reform the tort law system in the United States. Why you may be asking?

It’s simple. Abuse in tort law has led to massive harm for consumers and citizens, resulting in bogus lawsuits and payouts that lead to higher costs to both taxpayers and consumers. It’s the United States of AMERICA, not the United States of LAWSUITS.

We believe there should be just as much focus on legal reform when it comes to tort law as criminal justice. Both are vital.

My colleague David Clement was published on this theme in the Journal Star, and I’ve had my share of articles in Houma Today and the Daily Comet in Louisiana, and we even praised comedian John Oliver for his embrace of legal reform.

On that same path, our science video on IARC has racked up a quarter of a million views thus far. Who knew there was such thirst for unmasking of the myriad of problems that come with an international agency colluding with lawyers and “science consultants” for big lawsuits?

You’ll find more at time4legalreform.org.

Hey, remember when we said California’s gig economy law would hurt contractors and consumers, the very people it was purported to help? It’s already happening. It seems California’s efforts are backfiring faster than we could predict.

And for another “told you so” moment, we’re now celebrating two years since the repeal of Net Neutrality. Remember how it was supposed to be doomsday? It turns out, the Internet is better than ever! Thankfully, your CCC was on the case.


21 Democracy

Our next update is a biggie. This morning, we officially launched 21Democracy, a new project that aims to counter the growth of authoritarianism internationally.

My colleagues Fred Roder, Luca Bertoletti, and I were published in Politico EU with this message, as well as La Tribune in France. Europe needs smart policies if it wants to combat authoritarian regimes.

We know full well that authoritarian regimes have a negative impact on consumers and consumer choice. That’s why we must support liberal democracies like HONG KONG!

In usual provocative form, we joined our friends at Students For Liberty at the Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat basketball game donning FREE HONG KONG shirts and throwing out chants between baskets.

It’s no secret the NBA has been toeing the line on criticism of China, notably censoring or silencing players and coaches who support the Hong Kong protests. We Stand With Hong Kong, and so should everyone who believes in liberal democracies.


European Parliament Intergroup

But what about Europe? Here is the Christmas presents for all of you who loves Innovation the consumer choice center is happy to announce that in collaboration with leading MEPs such as Gianna Gancia, Jan Zahradil, Massimiliano Salini, Patrizia Toia, and many others we put together a new group of MEPs named “IP, Innovation and Brands: The Future of Europe”. For the next 4 years, you can be sure we will work together to make sure Europe will have a great future.


Consumer choice in Davos? Yes, please!

We’re returning to the Swiss Alps, the same time as the World Economic Forum.  We’ll host our Second Annual Cannabis Conclave high in the sky to fuel the debate over the legalization and decriminalization of cannabis globally. We’ve got A-list speakers and participants, and we’d love to have you there as well. Respond to this email if you’re interested in attending.

21Democracy will also host a private Davos dinner for chosen participants. Respond if you’d like to be there.


More Free Trade!

Exactly what else have we been following that’s been lost in the headlines? How about the free trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur.

There are untold benefits that would come from such a deal, and consumers on both continents would be winners. More info in this delectable infographic for your consumption.


Open Letter to the European Commission

And speaking of Europe, there’s a new Executive Vice President of the Commission in town, the familiar Frans Timmermans. 

Our Fred Roeder penned an open letter to Timmermans earlier this month, calling for a climate policy that will help consumers.

Our recommendations:

  • Recognise and embrace the possibilities to reduce carbon emissions by nuclear power.
  • Stay technology-neutral and create a fair and equitable environment in which innovators can continue to innovate and compete on the same terms; do not pick winners and losers ahead of time.
  • Do not burden consumers with new taxes on energy.

Some greatest hits

Bill Wirtz is a writing machine and the hits keep on coming. 

He’s published on agroecology in French and German, and was even able to squeeze in a speech in Ankara, Turkey on the potentials for 5G technology and cybersecurity.


Keep in mind the year is ending, and we’d love your support in our Christmas stockings.

If you believe in our message, consider donating or becoming a full-fledged member of the Consumer Choice Center so we can continue our important work.

Catch you in the New Year,

Yaël Ossowski

Everything Wrong with Cancer Warning Labels

Everything Wrong with Cancer Warning Labels

“BACON…, HOT COFFEE…, RED MEAT…, COCONUT OIL…
WHAT DO THEY HAVE IN COMMON?

You’ve may have thought: THEY’RE DELICIOUS. 
WRONG.

According to the World Health Organization’s INTERNATIONAL AGENCY FOR RESEARCH ON CANCER (IARC), all these foods “PROBABLY” or “POSSIBLY” can give you cancer.

Each year, this France-based agency published new studies known as monographs claiming to establish what is carcinogenic. So far, they’ve listed over 500 substances as DEFINITELY or POTENTIALLY carcinogenic, including your morning cup of coffee and the herbicide you use in your garden. In 48 years, they’ve only found one – JUST ONE – that isn’t.

These declarations have a sweeping impact not only on the products on the shelves, and how they’re regulated and taxed, but also the billions of dollars of lawsuits against these products.

CAN YOU SAY PAYDAY?

This is where science is trumped by money and lawyers.

IARC willfully confuses the relationship between “hazard” and “risk”. Hazard is something that can cause harm, risk explains how likely it is that it will. The sun is a hazard, because exposure to it can cause skin conditions. However, to most people the sun is not a risk, because they limit their exposure in summer, or apply sun cream. As with EVERYTHING ELSE, it’s a question of dosage.

For example, in 2016 the Munich Environmental Institute cast doubt on the safety of beer, claiming it can cause cancer. What they left out was that you needed to drink 1000L of beer a day for it to actually be harmful to health. Arguably, after 1000L of beer, the fact that it might be carcinogenic will be the least of your problems.

IARC STUDIES ARE LIKE A BAT SIGNAL TO THOUSANDS OF TORT LAWYER FIRMS.

What these experts conclude, therefore, becomes scientific dogma, regardless of the science.

WHY IS THIS PROBLEMATIC?

Experts at IARC have often been caught colluding with lawyers who stand to benefit from future lawsuits.

In the case of BENZENE and GLYPHOSATE, they have been accused of manipulating the science to arm trial lawyers. Researches have been ringing the alarm on IARC’s corruption of science for years.

That means hundreds of bogus lawsuits, bad public policy and bad information for consumers.

WHO BENEFITS WHEN SCIENCE IS CORRUPTED? 

LET’S UPHOLD SCIENCE RATHER THAN POLITICS. BECAUSE WE DESERVE BETTER


FOR MORE ARTICLES AND PUBLICATIONS ON SCIENCE AND HEALTH, CLICK HERE.

Trump’s Medicare executive order

CONSERVATIVE GROUPS SEND LETTER ON VAPING — A coalition of 25 conservative groups is urging Trump to keep flavored e-cigarettes on the market, arguing the products are “essential to the success of vaping as an alternative to cigarette use long-term.”

Groups such as Americans for Tax Reform, Consumer Choice Center and FreedomWorks argued the administration’s envisioned flavored vape ban would go against the White House’s deregulatory agenda and “destroy thousands of small businesses.” This comes as the White House abruptly organized, and then canceled, a meeting with conservative groups over vaping, which it said at the time would be rescheduled.

Read the article from POLITICO here.


For more facts on vaping, read our research on the Myths and Facts on Vaping: What Policymakers Should Know


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 
consumerchoicecenter.org

Taiwan’s quest to become a “blockchain island”

It has been over ten years since the world first heard of Bitcoin, but blockchain’s applications are still in their infancy. One legislator in Taiwan wants to change that. Nicknamed “Crypto Congressman” by Vitalik Buterin, Jason Hsu worked as a tech entrepreneur before getting involved in politics in 2016. Today, he’s on a mission to turn Taiwan into the world’s next blockchain island and crypto nation. 

Hsu believes that one of the main challenges for global policy making is bridging the gap between society and technology. He’s bringing his open-minded perspective to Taiwan’s parliament in an effort to promote a more tech-driven future for the country. A future in which blockchain plays a key role. 

Taiwan’s tech-forward governance

 “In September 2017 when China banned ICOs, I realized that Taiwan could capitalize on this opportunity,” explained Hsu in an interview. That’s when his quest to introduce blockchain-friendly legislation in the country began.

What followed was the launch of a fintech sandbox in Taiwan. The idea was two-fold: to attract more foreign investment and to encourage more homegrown tech startups in the financial sector. Favorable regulations coupled with a big pool of local engineering talent are hoped to put Taiwan on the map of world-class fintech hubs. 

But Hsu’s aspiration reaches far beyond the sandbox. He envisions applying blockchain to various aspects of governance: from the Department of Health, through Education, to Justice. The Crypto Congressman is currently involved in 25 different projects that aim to increase efficiency and improve people’s lives with blockchain. He also promised to develop an entire blockchain district in Taipei with a special community coin that would be issued to entrepreneurs. 

What can blockchain do for the people? 

Blockchain has gotten a lot of bad reputation in the last few years. When the Bitcoin bubble burst, skeptics were quick to proclaim blockchain a fad. Others, on the other hand, pointed out that the internet started with a speculative bubble, too. It was only after the dot-com crisis that the World Wide Web reached its maturity. Is blockchain’s real potential still largely unexplored? 

According to Hsu and other visionary legislators, the answer is yes. They see the crypto speculation as a distraction from far greater tasks ahead: improving public services and increasing trust in governments. 

The most important thing you need to know about blockchain is that it consists of a chain of immutable blocks, or pieces of information if you will. Every single transaction is recorded and the records stay in the system forever. You can’t delete, change or hide the data. 

For governments, this could be a real deal-breaker. All the mundane transactions between the citizens and the government bodies would be revolutionized. Birth and death certificates, academic degrees, deeds, proof of identity and any other paperwork could all exist in the decentralized system. This would prevent fraud and make safe online transactions a lot easier, including e-voting or online property exchange. 

The distributed ledger system can also be used to hold governments accountable and fight corruption. Blockchain could provide a permanent record of all public funds and spendings. In a utopian scenario, each citizen would be able to track where every penny of their taxes goes. 

Blockchain adoption worldwide

Taiwan is not the only country to experiment with blockchain. The small nation of the Marshall Islands is set to become the world’s first state to adopt a digital legal tender. Sovereign, or SOV, will supplement the US dollar, which is currently the official currency of the Marshall Islands. Following the launch of the national cryptocurrency, the country will transition to a new model of governance, based on blockchain. 

Another country incorporating blockchain for governance is Estonia. The Baltic state uses Ethereum to manage its e-residency program. Under the first-of-its-kind scheme, anyone can apply online to become an e-citizen in Estonia and legally start a business there. With cutting-edge initiatives like this one, it’s no surprise that the Estonian government was quick to embrace blockchain. However, the plans to roll out a national cryptocurrency, Estcoin, were paused indefinitely. 

And finally, there is a contestant for the “blockchain island” title eyed by Taiwan. Malta is known as one of the most blockchain-friendly countries in the world, thanks to a very favorable regulatory framework passed in 2018. The island country already managed to attract many large cryptocurrency exchanges: OKEx and Binance, for example, have established their headquarters there. 

Technology is the only way forward

More and more governments around the world are realizing what Jason Hsu already knows: that “blockchain is here to stay.” Implementation of blockchain-powered technologies is no longer an “if” but a “when”. In a fast-paced digital environment, legislators have a choice to move forward with the tech developments or become obsolete. The entrepreneurial spirit of “moving fast and breaking stuff” that Hsu brings to Taiwanese parliament might be just what contemporary policymakers need. 


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

CCC statement on the impact of 5G on regulation

The adoption of the Internet of Things and the highly anticipated rollout of very fast 5G networks raise a number of concerns. As a consumer advocacy group, the Consumer Choice Center believes that the issues of consumer privacy and data security haven’t been emphasised enough to date. The key interests of consumers include not only low prices and quick adoption of valuable new technologies but also privacy and data security. Therefore, we are convinced that privacy and security should be prioritised over other issue areas and should be addressed in an urgent yet smart and consumer-friendly fashion.

National governments’ desire to field next-generation 5G networks is being tempered by their growing concern over the security pitfalls created by the overreliance and dominance of untrustworthy vendors in the supply chain for 5G technology. The importance of a secure 5G is evident as governments across the European Union are currently undertaking comprehensive assessments of their exposure and risk to security vulnerabilities in the supply chain.  

Some manufacturers and software developers tend to be mostly concerned about low prices and those aspects of their products that consumers immediately appreciate. However, they should be reminded that consumers also have strong interests in privacy and data security. We believe that there is a need for a smart policy response, that would incentivise market players to give sufficient weight to consumer data security but also achieve that goal without undue market distortions and limiting of consumer choice. In our recent policy note, we laid out some of the possible policy solutions.

While potential threats to national security are serious, pursuing a strategy of brinkmanship risks elevating geopolitical concerns at the expense of an opportunity to enact comprehensive standards for 5G. National governments and industry must reinforce their commitments to the principles that gave consumers a thriving global technology sector in the first place: open markets and choice for ICT products and services. Safeguarding consumer privacy and security requires a coordinated framework to facilitate vendor diversity.

Since consumer privacy and data security are highly significant, it is essential that the consultation process adopts a consumer-focused approach. The Consumer Choice Center has been successful in leveraging the expertise of our distinguished research fellows to develop and promote policy solutions to safeguard consumer interests in cyberspace. We would be delighted to contribute to the ongoing debate around the adoption of 5G to ensure the interests of consumers are not left behind.

About the Consumer Choice Center (CCC): 
The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, consumer goods, and health & science.

BRAUN: Beer and wine in subway newsstand shops?

Turns out the posters are from Choice and Fairness, a collective of convenience and other stores, craft beer and wine retailers and consumers, all working together (and in tandem with the Ontario government) to expand sales of beer, wine and cider. The Retail Council of Canada, Convenience Industry Council of Canada, Ontario Convenience Stores Association and consumer advocacy group Consumer Choice Centre are among those involved.

Read more here

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